Posted in Ordinary Holiness

Worship

Whenever I’m on vacation, I get to choose where to worship on Sunday morning. Sometimes, if I’m in town I worship in a nearby town at a church where a friend of mine is the pastor. Sometimes, I worship here in High Point at the Episcopal or United Methodist congregations near me. Last night, I wondered if I might drive the 75 minutes to worship with my parents.

But, this morning I woke up and sneezed my fool head off! Not sure if it was allergies or a cold, I decided not to bring a potential cold to a local congregation. And I’ve heard people tell me many, many times that they don’t go to church because they find God in nature, or they don’t like to be around lots of people, or…they watch a preacher on TV. Well, I don’t have regular television, but I do have the internet, so I decided to try worshiping at home today.

Now, my task list for today (besides worship) was to install a fence, plant 6 shrubs, and transplant a bunch of potted plants.

So, before the sun got too hot, I went out and started working on the fence. The work is always slow for me because I’m not adept at this kind of work. Inevitably, I forget I need (or can’t find) a tool. I spend a LOT of time measuring things many times, so I don’t screw something up. And…now that Roxy and Eleanor live here, it’s like working with a toddler under my feet!

As I set up my work, I thought about how in worship, we begin with confession and forgiveness. So, as I made my way around my shed just loaded with things that I use only occasionally, I confessed that I spend money on things I don’t really need, that my comfort and convenience get my money far more readily than a stranger with a hungry tummy or a sick child who needs medicine or a single mom who can’t pay her bills. And as I measured out where the fence posts would be and drove stakes into the ground, carving into the earth, digging up grass that had grown there, I confessed that my use of fossil fuels in my car and in the truck that delivers my Amazon Prime items means I am complicit in the call for more resources. And if those who are building dangerous and leaking pipelines (like the Dakota Access Pipeline) which threaten our water supply didn’t have customers like me, they wouldn’t be carving into the earth in dangerous ways. And as I knelt in the sun, my muscles already feeling weak with only a few minutes of work behind them, I confessed that I do not care for my body as I should. I do not move it and keep it strong, even when I know it is important and faithful.

Since I am the one who pronounces God’s forgiveness after our confession on a Sunday morning, I stood up and looked around my yard, thinking about declaring myself forgiven. Then a breeze picked up, blowing my hair across my face, and I knew just what to do. I walked over to the stone birdbath which rests on an old stump. It was shimmeringly full today because of the powerful rainstorm that blew through here last night. Reaching out my hand, I saw the dirt under my fingernails as I dipped my God-made fingers into that God-made water and smeared a barely muddy cross on my God-made forehead. And in that moment, I remembered that God didn’t make the cross; we did. God showed up to love us, and we fashioned him a cross for making us admit we weren’t loving each other well. And God did not punish us for such a savage thing. God forgave us. Because God is in the business of forgiving and never grows weary of forgiving me. This, I believe.

Because I am not physically strong, and because I get over-heated oddly easily, I committed myself to taking frequent breaks to come inside, cool off (lying on my tile floor is fantastic for that), drink lots of water, and remember to eat well.

On my first break, I decided to find a sermon. So, I scrolled through Facebook to find a friend’s church with a link to their service. I watched Facebook Live from Pilgrim Lutheran in Lexington, SC. And what do you know, the pastor said that we need the church, that Jesus prayed we would all be one…together. Even though it is inconvenient and frustrating and not always efficient – we need each other in order to be Christ’s church. On the day I decided to do church alone, the sermon I randomly chose to hear reminded me that I need the church, and the church needs me.

I spent the rest of the day in and out of the sun, working hard, resting, petting my dogs, telling my dogs to move out of the way, accomplishing an important task, and remembering that I’m a capable woman. The fence posts are in, and the fencing will go up tomorrow. I didn’t plant the shrubs because I called my dad for some advice, and the suggestion he made means waiting to plant the shrubs until we do some other work in that area.

I sang a little – because we always sing in worship.

I ate fresh strawberries and blueberries from my garden, and while it was not Holy Communion of bread and wine with my sisters and brothers in Christ, it absolutely was a provision from God growing right there in my backyard.

So, I had church on my own today. It was fine. But in 7 days, I get to worship with my beautiful congregation – and that’s better.

Scroll down if you want to see my very helpful dogs being very helpful.

First, I gathered my tools in my very professional construction bucket, and my assistant made sure everything smelled right.


 

…and tasted right.

 

 

Eleanor stood very, very close because it is helpful to have others very, very close when using a hammer.

 

 

Meanwhile, Roxy came over to laugh about how muddy her nose was.
Both girls kept me company while I worked by being very, very close. After all, nothing is more helpful than closeness while using tools.
I’m helping, Mom.  See how close I am? That’s how you know I’m helping.
Posted in God's Love

Promises

Sometimes, God gives you people you really need…in ways you didn’t really know you needed them.

In seminary, I had a classmate named David. He lived on campus with his wife, Karen, and I lived a couple of towns over with my husband and kids. My being a commuter student meant I didn’t always get to know people all that well outside of the classroom. While they were having cook-outs and studying together, I was driving home to my family. So, I knew David in the classroom. He was smart and good at computer-y things when I had questions. He was also not from the South, so we had a kinship in that. His wife, Karen, was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of our seminary journey. She died during the first year or so of David’s first call as a pastor of a congregation. I think that was about 4 years ago. David was maybe 50ish when he became a widower. My heart broke for him, and as Spirit would have it, we were in a group of brand new pastors who met monthly for support and fellowship.

When I was called to be the pastor of the good people of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, (as Spirit would have it) a small group of female pastors (who had been pastors for 20 years or more) in my area gathered me under their experienced wings. We met for lunch once a month for support and fellowship. Judy was one of those pastors. I liked her right away because her smile, humor, and kindness are captivating. Over the months of getting to know each other, we found we had both been divorced when our kids were young – and our sons were attending the same university! We have a lot in common and have become dear friends.

Spirit drew David toward and into my life.

Spirit drew Judy toward and into my life.

Two years ago, I became a widow at the age of 45. David and I were suddenly in the same club: Pastors Who Are Too Young to Be Widows/Widowers. It meant we could nod and make eye contact with each other when we heard someone ask the other of us an awkward question or try to offer comfort. It meant we both knew that when we entered a room at a pastors’ conference for our region, those who didn’t know us personally knew of our losses because our names had been in the newsletter and on prayer lists. We knew what it felt like to have well-meaning people shake our right hand and put their left hand on our shoulder, make meaningful eye contact and ask, “How are you?” And we both new that the weight of the hand on our shoulder and the answer we really wanted to give to this virtual stranger were far too heavy.

Since my second husband died, Judy and I have shared many long conversations about singlehood, single parenting of adult children, and single-female-pastorhood. She has shared that she longed for a life-partner again. I have shared that I simply have no such longing at this point.

David and I have had the same conversations. As Spirit would have it, they met, fell in love, and…

…yesterday, Spirit drew me to Ebenezer Lutheran Church to bear Christian witness at the wedding of David and Judy.

I am so happy for them. And I wondered how it would feel to be at their wedding – my single-mom friend and my widower friend both filling spaces in their hearts and lives, spaces that we have in common. I wondered how it would be to hear them promise forever to each other. Would it sting a little? Would it make me wonder if I might find such love?

The ceremony was beautiful! A trumpet and organ filled the old, stone building as the bridal party walked down the aisle and took their places. Their astonishingly talented friends sang beautiful solos, scripture was proclaimed, a fine sermon was preached, and then it was time for the Rite of Christian Marriage. Our bishop asked David and Judy if they intended to live within a covenant, a holy promise. Do they intend to go through life together, regardless of what life has in store? And I remembered how very hard that can be.

And then came the vows.

I got stuck on these words: I will share my life with you, through the best and worst that is to come.

I can’t do that. I cannot spend that kind of energy. I can’t make that kind of promise.

I confess that when the bishop prayed the next prayer, I was flipping back to the first page of the worship booklet. I knew I had heard the bishop say something about marriage that I needed to read again. And there it was:

Marriage is a call from God.

When we try to do things we are not called to do, that for which we do not have the gifts, things don’t go so well.

If God calls me to marriage again, first God will equip me with the stores of energy, forgiveness, humility, and patience marriage requires. And, certainly, while equipping me with such gifts, Spirit will continue to help me heal from the unhealthy ways I have learned to protect myself. God is in the business of helping me unlearn unhelpful things. This, I believe.

And in just the way that I am not called to be a doctor or politician or work in retail, I may very well not be called to be married. God has called me to holy and marvelous things in this chapter of my life. This, I believe.

Posted in Whole 30

Grain Week Post #2 – Whole 30

A SAMMICH!!!!!!

Pretty amazing to take a slice of bread out of the bag, schmear Whole 30 approved mayo on it and add sliced turkey and banana peppers to it. Slice some tomatoes and peel a tangerine, and you have a FEAST! (Please, please, please don’t let gluten/grains affect my arthritis or sleep! Pretty please! I just love bread so much – and I promise to eat it with care from now on, not eating half a loaf of French bread because I can.)

I did have quite a “moment” today with regard to old habits, rewards, and sugar.

Today was paperwork day. Now, if you have a regular brain that holds lots of details in check pretty easily, if you kind of like filing because everything has its place, then you really might not get this. But, paperwork, bill paying, filing, sorting through mail, and other paper-pushing activities are actually painful for me. I will employ every procrastination tactic to avoid it.

It goes like this: Oh! I know I really better get to that paperwork, but the dogs haven’t had baths in a while. Oh, I know owe my financial guy a call, and he’s going to ask me to find some piece of paper I should know how to find, but I can’t really concentrate since my sweaters are still in my closet in late May. I should switch out my wardrobe. I really should.

But, when I can’t procrastinate any more, and it’s time to make it happen, I have to set the stage.

I end up with lots of piles as I sort, and the table is never big enough, so I put these little shelves on the table, so I can stack things above and below.

I gather every scrap of mail I have opened and said, “I’ll get to this later.” Well, it’s later, Jennifer. Here we go. I get some pens and a stapler and post-its.

And I always, always, always pour a Pepsi. I deserve it. It makes the job go down easier. And, to munch on while I work – some Cheezits or chips or something super salty.

So, this time I had to be hyper conscious of my feelings and habits. This time, I heated some water for tea, and I worked without a salty snack. I still accomplished my work, and I felt all the feelings of inadequacy I always feel when that pile of papers whispers, “Normal adults can manage this, Jennifer. They don’t let things stack up. They aren’t behind on things and don’t forget to call their financial guy back. Grownups don’t have the same tasks on their lists for months. They don’t say, ‘Oh, I should call the electrician/plumber/tree trimmer/whomever,’ over and over without calling.” This time, the stack whispered the same things, but this time I didn’t feed my shame liquid sugar and crunchy salt to make it feel better. 48 and I just got our work done today. Well, it’s not done, but it’s all sorted into tasks for tomorrow.

 

Posted in Whole 30

Grain Week Post #1 – Whole 30

Dairy was fine. I figured it would be. No changes to my sleeping patterns or swelling of my fingers, so WHEW!

I went back to pure Whole 30 for two days, and today….

I ate a pita chip with my kabobs and salad at a Mediterranean restaurant. Okay, I ate a serving of pita chips which had lots of lovely salt and seasonings on them. And so begins the Grain Week experiment. No gluten or any grains of any sort for 37 days should mean my system is clear of gluten, so we’ll see if I have any adverse effects to it. So far, so good. My stomach doesn’t hurt or anything.

But, again, my issues aren’t so much intestinal inflammation/irritation as they are muscle/joint inflammation, so I think it could take several days for it to build up in my system and affect my arthritis.

Here’s what 48 and I are learning right now: We are a little afraid of food. I actually mean to use the word “little”. It’s not as though I’m not eating. It’s just that since it’s not easy to just grab any old thing, I find I hesitate to eat. Hesitate, not avoid. Also, I spent a week eating dairy, and now I’ve taken it back out (mostly – you’ll notice I forgot to tell them “no feta” on my salad today, and I ate a bit of it, but I pushed most of it to the side). But, my brain is not convinced of that, yet, I guess. I really enjoyed the Greek yogurt popsicles I was eating last week, and yesterday when I was eating Pure Whole 30, I nearly reached for one a couple of times.

So, I guess the way I was feeling on day 30 had some merit to it. I can do gluttony, and I can do Whole 30, but somewhere in between, when some things are allowed and some aren’t, I’m not steady. I feel vulnerable, like I’m going to fail…WHICH IS AWFUL!…because this is just about me. It’s not a test. There is no prize (besides better health). I am not competing with anyone. I’m actually doing pretty darn great! And STILL I’m such a terrible critic of myself. It’s like I’m my own coach for this sport, but instead of running alongside shouting words of encouragement, I stand there shaking my head slightly with a look of pity saying, “You probably can’t do this.”

That makes me so mad. You know why?!

Because I had the best childhood one could ask for. I have deeply moral, highly educated, incredibly creative, sacrificially loving, ridiculously funny parents who treated my brothers and me with oceans of respect. They told me they were proud of me. We are not a family who kisses each other goodbye or says, “I love you,” every time we hang up the phone, but all five of us know that we are loved with the kind of love that makes us feel safe and sure. My parents are partners. I really had the best model for marriage and family that I could ask for. No alcoholism. No abuse. My mother made dinner, and we ate together. Not one time did anyone tell me that I shouldn’t eat dessert because it would make me fat. No one was maniacal about exercise or diet, so that I would carry a bunch of emotional baggage into my adulthood about food.

So, if food is hard for me, if I am a scowling self-coach EVEN WHEN I’M DOING REALLY WELL, then how hard must this be for others!?!

If you are reading this tonight with tears in your eyes because it is so hard, and you are a terrible self-coach, and your childhood was maybe difficult, and you have some heavy baggage around food, then please let me tell you something.

So, this is the first time I have ever uploaded a video into a blog post, and it is enormous, I can’t figure out how to make the video take up less space — or move it around like I can do for pictures.  So, I’m sorry if my face is enormous and you feel like you are being yelled at by a big head!

Posted in Ordinary Holiness

Dear Evan Hansen

(Spoiler alert: not the whole plot, but some of it)

A few weeks ago, my friend, Shelly, introduced me to the new hit musical Dear Evan Hansen.

Not to be over-dramatic, but…it’s the most important piece of literature I have heard or read in a very long time.

When Shelly told me it was about suicide and depression and fitting in and lying, I thought, “Wow. Okay. This sounds like it will speak to me since my life story includes all of those things in some fashion or the other.” It also sounded hard, but Broadway musicals can make hard things accessible for me, so that evening, I said, “Alexa, play Dear Evan Hansen.” (Alexa is the voice-activated thingy my daughter got me, which does more than play music – but that’s about all I ever ask her to do.)

I listened and loved it. But, I couldn’t really make out the story line from just the songs, so I looked up the plot. Basically, Evan pretends to have been good friends with a classmate (Connor) who has just committed suicide. Evan ends up being invited into Connor’s family – each member of which grieves very differently. He becomes the son that Connor never was, and they become the parents that Evan never had. Evan’s dad left when he was 6 years old, and his sole-bread-winner single mother was always busy.

There is a song in which Evan’s mother (along with his girlfriend, Zoe, and his friend, Jared) sings about how much it hurts that Evan has so easily chosen a new family, one who can give him all the things she never could. So, we get to hear the pain in his mother’s voice as she angrily sings, “I’m sorry I had it rough, and I’m sorry I’m not enough. Thank God they rescued you!” (Here’s a video someone has created for this song.)

Well, Evan’s lies catch up to him and they begin to unravel. He knows he has no real excuse for the lies he’s spun – except sometimes you want something to be true, so you make it true.

And while Evan is trying to figure out what comes next, how to face the world after being caught in such grand lies, his mother sings the song So Big/So Small which begins by telling about the day his dad moved out. And how she felt so small. And how 6-year-old Evan asked if there would be another truck coming to take Mommy away, like the U-Haul that had taken Daddy that day.

Some of the lyrics of that song are:

I knew there would be moments that I would miss.

And I knew there would be space I couldn’t fill.

And I knew I would come up short a million different ways.

And I did.

And I do.

And I will.

But…[just like when you were little, right now, and for the rest of my life], I will take your hand and say, “Your mom isn’t going anywhere. Your mom is staying right here. No matter what.”

And there I stood in my kitchen, up to my elbows in soapy dish water, shouting “Alexa! Pause!”

It was too much all at once. But, that’s the way it is with grief – you simply don’t know what will trigger it, what it will ask of you, or even what exactly you are grieving.

My second husband died two years ago. He died of depression; the way he died was suicide. So, I knew what to expect when I started listening to this musical about those who were left to live in the wake of suicide. I was not surprised that his sister isn’t all that sad or his father feels resentment. I was not surprised that someone pretended to have been great friends with someone who died. I was ready for all things death and grief and confusing emotions.

But, this musical is also about a single mother who tried to be a father, too. A single, hard-working woman who wanted to give her kids a more leisurely life, some of the nice things that money buys. This woman is terrified she will not be enough, and is watching her son prove her right by slipping so easily into another family.

Now, I need to explicitly say right here in public that I have a 23-year-old son who has been beautifully welcomed into the family and life of his fiancé. He has moved away from me, and has a new home. This is as it should be. I raised Micah to be brave and chase his dreams. He met his dream. Her name is Jenna. And her family lives in Baltimore. So, he has planted his life there, and I am grateful to God and to Jenna’s family for the warm and authentic way they have enfolded him.

Being a single mother to adult children is not the part of my single-motherhood that stopped me in the soapy tracks that night. It was the people in this picture. It was 33 year-old Jennifer holding onto her children for dear life. It was this Jennifer in this picture who sat in a Family Law courtroom trembling with the brightest fear she had ever felt – waiting for a stranger with a robe and gavel to decide how many days per month she got to live with her own children. And this Jennifer wondered how in the whole wide world she would be enough. How could she ever find enough time or money or confidence or experience to keep these two safe and nourished and exposed to the right people and questions and possibilities!?

And when it comes down to it, there are times when I was not enough, times I made some pretty lousy choices. But, I didn’t go anywhere. I stayed right there. No matter what. And I’m convinced that was the call on my life – and always will be.

And none of this happens in a vacuum. We single moms have villages who help in a million tiny ways. And the fundamental truth is the single mother in this picture only got through each next day because her parents had taken her 33-year-old hands and said, “Your parents aren’t going anywhere. Your parents are staying right here. No matter what.”

Posted in Whole 30

Dairy Week, Post #3 – Whole 30

Okay, so I’m still writing about food. Not sure how long I will keep this up, but I’m still learning how to cook while paying careful attention to ingredients and my health, so I guess I’ll just keep processing this information by writing it down here.

Cooking this week, trying to be sure to include some dairy, is pretty fun, actually. It’s not super simple because every recipe I thought of – also had some kind of grain or legume or something. So, I landed on one of my very favorite appetizers that I love so much I even totally make them when people are not coming over…and when people are coming over. Goat (or feta or bleu) Cheese Stuffed, Bacon Wrapped Dates! If you can read the name of this tasty treat, you have also read the ingredient list: goat cheese, bacon, dates.

Count out as many dates as appetizers you want. I chose 24.

Slice each (pitted – who would ever buy them with pits in them?!) date lengthwise, and pry it open just enough that you can fill it with goat cheese. When you press it closed, the cheese will just kind of act like glue to keep it in shape. Wrap that baby in a 3″ strip of bacon (with no sugar added) and cook for about 20 minutes at 400 – but watch them near the end. I burnt a batch of these once, and while the smell stayed in the house a few days, the very saddest part was certainly that after having put them together, none of them got to go in my mouth.

I covered them and put them in the frig, so I can cook them tomorrow. Can. Not. Wait.

I also had some backfin crab to use up, so I decided to make crab cakes…but without flour or bread crumbs or crushed chex for the gluten free recipes, it was kind of hard. So, I used tapioca flour to bread one of them. It’s the one in the pan that looks like a crab cake, not a crab pile. But, tapioca flour feels exactly like corn starch, so it just felt weird to dip this ball in tapioca flour, then egg, then more tapioca flour. So, I made one like that – and I tried to make crab cakes with just the crab mixture kinds of mashed into a patty with no breading on it. Exactly none of those stayed together at all. So, what I got on my dinner plate was one cute little, slightly browned, and perfectly fine crab cake…and a pile of decadent crab mixture kind of fried in butter FOR THE WIN!!! It was so delicious. I have no idea how one might serve it to guests, but I have to figure it out because it was outrageous! (Maybe like fish taco night?!)

Anyway, the dairy in this excellent dinner was the melted butter in the pan – and in the little bowl on my plate! In these little moments, I guess I’m pretty grateful that dairy doesn’t seem to be a health thief – at least not yet.

Posted in Whole 30

Dairy Week, Post#2 – Whole 30

Several dollops of sour cream, two tubes of frozen Greek yogurt, a few cups of tea with real milk or half-n-half, and a couple slices of cheddar cheese later – I feel fine. I slept well. My fingers feel the same.

According to the scale, I’ve lost 2 more pounds. But two pounds in two days is nonsense if you are considering calories in and calories burned, so the scale once again only confirms what I already knew. I felt kind of bloaty when I woke up on the day I was to weigh myself – Day 31. My back hurt (extra). I had a headache. And I had some abdominal cramps.

I was ovulating.

Sorry if that’s too much information, Gentle Reader, but it’s part of being a female person. You do it enough times (I figure I’ve ovulated about 12 times a year for 35 years, minus a couple of pregnancies, so let’s call it 400 times), you know how it feels. HOWEVER, when you are eating lots of chemicals and consuming lots of soda, it gets a little confusing. Am I feeling bloaty because I ate Doritos for lunch and washed it down with a Route 44 Dr. Pepper from Sonic® (with the best ice!)? Or am I feeling this way because my miracle of a body is preparing to make a baby if the conditions are right?

So, I’m guessing if Day 31 had not fallen on the-day-of-conception-preparation, the scale would have read two pounds lighter. This is only significant in that I spent 30 days eating so many foods that every diet tells you to limit, and I not only did not limit them – I ate loads of them. I measured, weighed, and counted zero food. I took the Whole 30 people seriously when they said my ONE JOB was to eat only the foods on their list.

I ate HALF an avocado at a meal (instead of the 1/8 of an avocado that is the usual suggested portion). I ate handfuls of nuts several times a day (hundreds of calories in each handful). I ate steak without trimming every bit of fat. I didn’t skim all the fat off the chicken broth I made. I ate bacon and cooked my eggs in the bacon grease. Mayo (homemade) was on the list – as was olive oil and clarified butter.

I ate as much as I wanted of these decadent foods – and I lost nearly 10 pounds in a month.

This means it is not all about calories in/calories out. It’s more complicated than that. And it’s more simple than that. It’s about spending some time paying attention to your miracle of a body and learning the lessons she is teaching you.

I didn’t take any pictures yesterday of food or whatever. So, here’s a picture of my silly dogs for your viewing pleasure. Eleanor Rigby sometimes sleeps in ridiculous poses, and Roxy would like to be as close to me as possible – so, if I’m on the sofa on the other side of the gate, she’s up against that gate.

Posted in Whole 30

Dairy Week – Whole 30

I had half-n-half in my tea this morning, but no sugar. It was no different than Nutpods creamer in my tea. Of course, Nutpods is way more expensive, so I will only choose it if dairy ends up being a health stealer.

I had a slice of cheddar cheese. Just by itself. Because cheese.

I had a FANTASTIC lunch at Chipotle. Since they don’t have additives in any of their foods, it’s a pretty good place to eat. I had a salad with chicken, pico de gallo, sour cream, and cheese. The dairy in that bowl was so decadent, and the sour cream and pico made a great dressing. And since I just drank water, it was less than $7 for the healthful, delicious meal.

I stopped at the grocery store and got some sour cream, 2% milk, and some Chobani yogurt in tubes (like Gogurt). This morning, I read the Whole 30 email about Day 31. They said if you are choosing to reintroduce dairy, you will get some sugar in there with it – and that’s okay. But that feels confusing to me, so I’m not planning to do much of that. They said have yogurt in the morning, and a scoop of ice cream in the evening. So, I did buy some Greek yogurt, but Chobani has less sugar than most other yogurts, and I’ll just have a frozen tube of yogurt once a day this week. Also, the packaging is Wonder Woman’s logo, and I feel a lot like Wonder Woman lately, so…Day 31 dinner

But, before my yogurt treat, my dinner also included dairy. Leftover steak, fingerling potatoes, sour cream, and strawberries.

Thoughts on reintroducing dairy: It felt decadent to have creamy things. I have missed them, but I’m not craving them. If I had to live without dairy, it would be complicated, but I could totally do it. As far as my physical reaction to eating dairy today, I feel fine. Seriously, I’m not going write here every time I have a bit of gas – none of us need to share all that news with each other. But, I honestly feel well today eating dairy. My fingers feel the same. We’ll see how I sleep. And as I have said, I really think it will take a few days to see if my fingers feel swollen or my sleep is affected. I never did think I was lactose intolerant or had a dairy allergy, so I’m looking for more subtle reactions.

Posted in Whole 30

Day 31 – Whole 30

7 pounds. That’s the answer to the question I’ve been asking. I lost 7 pounds this month.

But, here’s the most interesting part: I was waiting and waiting to get on that scale. 48 and I are VERY accustomed to measuring our health by that number. But, then I stepped on the scale, saw the number, and thought, “Huh. 7. Okay.” It simply didn’t change anything. I knew I had lost weight because my clothes fit differently. I knew I had lost weight because my stomach wasn’t so much in the way when I painted my toes. I already knew – but I needed the confirmation of the scale. I even wrote in my health journal last night. “I think I’ve lost between 5 and 10 pounds. It just feels like about a pants size or so.” I already knew. But, the simple bathroom scale held all kinds of authority. Perhaps the most important thing 48 and I have learned about ourselves is agency.

We get to choose our food.

We have all sorts of power to refuse foods that hurt us.

We actually know our body. And we are learning more about it every day.

We are surprised at how fantastic our body is, how it responds to food and sleep and safety and laughter.

We started this journey with an interest in being gentle with ourselves, to stop believing that we simply have no will power, that if we were simply more disciplined we would put down the Pepsi. We were ready to figure out how to silence the voice in our head that called us “weak” and “loser” and “gluttonous” every time we ate Doritos. And we did it! 30 days with no sugar, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no additives, and no alcohol (the last of which was zero difficult for me) means we are powerful and strong and capable. So, we intend to listen to that voice, the one that tells us we are powerful strong and capable…even when we are choosing a slice of cheesecake.

The number 7 is exceedingly important at the end of this Whole 30 journey. But it’s not the 7 pounds. It’s the 7 hours of sleep I get each night. It feels like a miracle. It feels like healing and wholeness. So, sorry, Bathroom Scale, you are not king of my health. Sleep Number Bed is king.

Posted in Whole 30

Days 28, 29, and 30

These last three days have been so busy. Just zany. So, I fell into bed without blogging about them.

Day 28
was Mother’s Day. I drove to my parents’ house for a great meal with fantastic family. Mom made a Whole 30 meal for us, so it was easy for me. There were a few choices I skipped, like whipped cream and pound cake…but ate a bowl of delicious berries while they ate the cake. It was not hard at all, though I think it might have been hard for my mom to serve me a plate of berries while she served the others such decadent fare.

She had a baked potato bar, so there was cheese, butter, and sour cream on the counter, but I didn’t find it difficult to skip them and scoop the delicious ground beef and broccoli onto my potato. I ate the whole thing and loved every bite. I brought a container of Nutpods creamer, so I could have a cup of hot tea, like I always do when I am at my mom’s. But, I usually have a giant scoop of sweetened condensed milk in my tea. The best part of all of it was sitting around with my family, chatting and enjoying each other’s company. My daughter had work that evening, so after I got home from my parents’ house, I waited for her to get home from work, and around 11:00 p.m., we had our favorite Whole 30 dessert: frozen pineapple chunks and orange juice blended into a smoothie.

My brother and his wife brought me a bouquet of stunning roses for Mother’s Day.

Day 29
was Monday, and I had back-to-back meetings all day. I made the mistake of not eating enough during that time, and I didn’t really notice until I started to feel really lousy. Then, I ate the salad I brought, and not too long after that, I had an RX Chocolate and Sea Salt bar. Then, I felt fine – and had another meeting!

I also took this picture of my fingernails on Day 29. They never look this nice. Honestly, never.

So, then, just like that, it was DAY 30!

But, when I woke up this morning, I didn’t feel like I was at the end of anything. I actually felt a little nervous – like I know how to do gluttony, and I know how to do Whole 30, but I’m not so sure I can do the in between very well. I also intend to do a very slow reintroduction process, so I’m far from being “done” with the Whole 30 world.

My intention is to eat some dairy tomorrow. I bought some sliced cheese, and I have some cream cheese. Adding dairy back in makes me think of strawberry yogurt in the morning – or a scoop of ice cream in the evening – but that’s dairy AND sugar…and I just get one. I also thought of butter on a slice of bread…and that’s dairy AND grains. So, I don’t think I’ll be all that decadent tomorrow. Just have a slice of cheese or put some cream cheese on some celery or something.

I think I’ve said this before, but I seriously can’t believe that I’m not dying to put sugar back in my diet. I truly am a sugar addict, so how did this work for me??! How can it be that I have no intention to pour a Pepsi tomorrow? Actually, I do intend to reintroduce sugar right after dairy because I miss ketchup and salad dressings. I tried many and varied recipes for ranch and ketchup, and while some of them were fine (Caesar was the best) – none of them were great. And it’s also very time/cost/mess intensive to do.

So, there you have it.  My daughter and I did Whole 30. It wasn’t terrible like I worried it would be. I learned a LOT about myself, my body, my food, my emotional connection to the numbers on the scale, my sleep, my swollen fingers. I am not dying to go back to the way I was eating. I am not craving — really anything, actually.  And, I’m thinking about doing this every year…but ask me that again next year.